A new era for Loughborough Sport was marked with the first fixture at the new Holywell Stadium on Friday night as Loughborough FC took on Tottenham Hotspurs U18s.
Although the weather wasn’t ideal, which perhaps put some people off attending, the event was a fantastic occasion and an enjoyable experience, hopefully the first of many. On the field, the game was full of drama with the eight goals being shared equally before a penalty shootout decided the result in Tottenham's favour.
Prior to the start of the main game, Loughborough played a 7-a-side game against a Legends team, which included Bradley Pritchard, Robbie Simpson and Rob Edmans.
The game started with both teams looking spritely and out to impress. Some ropey defending in the first five minutes of the game cost Loughborough, as Tottenham scored. It looked like the game could well be one-sided, but Loughborough held their own and had several chances to equalise, but to no avail.
Tottenham continued to push forward, while defending was made harder by the fresh pitch being incredibly wet and slippery. Loughborough’s Nti had a decent shot, to the crowd’s excitement, which was well saved but did earn the home side to win the first corner of the game.
This was soon followed by two separate individual efforts from Loughborough, one of which a spectacular overhead kick, only stopped by excellent saves from the Spurs keeper.
Loughborough were fighting to get the ball out of their own half, but against the run of play went on to score twice in ten minutes before half time, to lead 2-1 at the break.
Half time saw the third team get presented with the BUCS Gold medals, by Michael Greenwood the captain for the GB football team.
Good play, early in the second half, by Tottenham saw them get a goal back to make the score equal at 2-2. This however received a fantastic reply with Beckett quickly getting a goal back with a low strike from outside of the box, to make the score 3-2 to Loughborough.
The game looked to be going very much in the home side’s favour as they were awarded a penalty soon after their third goal, as the ball was handled in the box. This was calmly slotted home by Nti to make the score 4-2.
Tottenham applied the pressure, and managed to draw a goal back after a strong break away. The rest of the half was filled with end to end action but it was only when the fourth official showed there was three minutes of extra time, that Loughborough scored an own goal to leave the final score all level at 4-4
The result was settled by a penalty shootout, and despite the home crowd gathering behind the goal, Tottenham won comfortable in the shootout 3-1.
The next fixture in the new Holywell Stadium will see Loughborough RFC take on a Barbarians side on Wednesday May 9.
Photography: Jon Linnell